Japanese 003

11 04 2010

Sometimes I include things that aren’t strictly taught in the chapter listed but are relevant, like the negative form of asking a question.

Nakama 1: ch2 – Greetings & Introductions

Section II – ~は~ですか。

Question
Affirmative – Noun は Noun ですか。
Alternative – Noun ですか。
Negative – Noun は Noun じゃないですか。

This is a simple question: Is noun, noun? The negative form is a bit weird to use. Normally when a question is in the negative it’s really like a confirmation of something you think is true: Are you not Suzuki-san? Anyways, just don’t use the negative question at this point.

Example:
すずきさんですか。 suzuki san desu ka. Are you Suzuki-san? (when asked to Suzuki) OR Is it Suzuki-san?
すずきさんはがくせいですか。 suzuki san ha gakusei desu ka. Is Suzuki-san a student? OR Are you a student? (when asked to Suzuki)

There are different ways of translating Japanese depending on who it was spoken to. The Japanese rarely fully refer to ‘you’ as ‘you’ because for them, vagueness is politeness. So even when speaking directly to Suzuki-san, the speaker will address the person by their name in a weird “I know you’re Suzuki but I’ll refer to you as if we’re talking about you in the 3rd person” type of way.

The alternative way of asking is a little brisk because it lacks proper structure. Or something like that. Normally when talking, you’d want to include as much extra info as possible because that’s just how the Japanese roll. So to say anything or ask anything in the Nounです form is a little curt. But, it’s not wrong, you can use it every now and then.

Answer
Affirmative – はい、そうです。
Negative – いいえ、そうじゃありません。

By the way, negatives almost always have the two ways of saying it: ~じゃありません and ~じゃないです. Sometimes you can only use one due to grammar rules but most of the time it’s interchangeable. As with above, you can just say a yes or no without the extra bit at the end, but that sounds as cold as it does in English.

Section III – relations using の

Bigger noun の smaller noun です。

I really can’t explain this clearly but when you’re talking about something ‘belonging’ to something else, whatever it is that belongs to whatever else goes second. This also denotes possession so the order is: possessor の possessed. The Japanese order for things always seems to go from big to small, vague to specific.

Examples:
やまださんは____だいがくのがくせいです。 Yamada-san is a student at ____ university.
わたしのともだちはいちねんせいです。 My friend is a 1st year.
とうきょうだいがくのスミスさん Tokyo University’s Smith-san OR Smith-san from Tokyo U. Notice that without the ~です ending, this is not a real sentence.
わたしのなまえは。。。 My name is…

Section IV – question words

なん – what
だれ・どんなた – who/who(polite)
どこ・どちら -where/where(polite)
いつ – when

These words ask for specific information. Just replace the Nouns you don’t know of from the previous section with one of these question words.

Examples:
すずきさんはなんですか。 すずきさんはがくせいです。 What is Suzuki? Suzuki is a student.
やまださんはなんのがくせいですか。 やまださんは___だいがくのがくせいです。 Yamada is a student of what? Yamada is ____ university’s student.
だれのともだちはいちねんせいですか。 わたしのともだちはいちねんせいです。 Who’s friend is a 1st year? My friend is a first year.
やまださんのだいがくはどこですか。 Where is Yamada’s university? (lit. Yamada’s university is where?)

Extra:
どちらからいらっしゃいましたか。 Where are you from? This is a polite way of asking someone’s town/city/country/etc.
どちらからきましたか。 This is less formal than the above.
_____ にきました。 This is the way to answer. Never use いらっしゃいました when replying, it makes you sound very haughty in a bad bad way.

Don’t be shy to ask my questions if you have them!

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